Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One More Month

Seeing that a lot of my friends seemed to have given up blogging, I kind of wonder why I'm still doing this. It's not like I have anything particularly interesting to say anyway. But I suppose it does feel good to have a place where you can talk and talk and not be asked to shut up. For that reason, I shall continue to blog :)

The end of the year is very near, which means that exams are very near as well. Preparations are getting better, so thank God for that. Today marks exactly a month until the last day of my exams, and quite frankly, I'm more excited about the prospect of being free from exams rather than worrying about the exam itself. I have quite a lot planned for myself once I gain independence, I should write it all down, in no particular order:

1. Watch tennis. Lots and lots of it. I plan to watch every single tournament, whether its ATP Masters 250 or a Grand Slam. The Australian Open is coming up very soon (in the midst of my exams, in fact), and I can't wait to see Nadal lift the trophy! If he does, he'll have all 4 Grand Slams in a row and 10 Grand Slams altogether! All at the age of 24! :D

2. READ! There are tonnes of books that I've bought that haven't been read yet! E.M. Forster's A Passage to India, Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake, Charles Dickens' David Copperfield, Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, Mitch Albom's Have A Little Faith, and Tracy Chevalier's Remarkable Creatures. I also need to finish: Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, Jane Austen's Persuasion, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and John Grisham's The Firm. Books that need re-reading include: Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (the appendices section), and of course Rowling's Harry Potter. After I'm done with all that (or perhaps somewhere in between), I plan on expanding my reading horizons. I need to read all of Dickens' and Austen's works, Tolstoy's War and Peace and Anna Karenina, Forster's Howard's End, Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence and Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day. I must also read up some non-fiction, finishing Fareed Zakaria's The Post-American World would be a good start, and then get my friend to recommend me more non-fiction stuff. Perhaps something related to Philosophy, Economics or Theology. The pursuit of knowledge is a lot more exciting when you know there are no exams at the end of it! I probably won't even like half of the books I've mentioned above, but that's not the point, is it? Every book has something to offer, and besides, think of the feeling you'll get after you've finished them. You can go around telling people "I have read War and Peace by Tolstoy, have you?" I felt that way after I finished Lord of the Rings. It's a great feeling :)

3. Brush up on my general knowledge. I'll have so much time in my hands after exams, that there won't be any excuse for me to remain ignorant about the world around me. Spend hours on the Internet and read up on all the excruciating details on Israel-Palestine, North-South Korea, all the major Wars, Capitalism, Communism, foreign policy, and everything else! Come on, Aira. You must be like those walking breathing CNNs and Wikipedias you know and envy!

4. Attend as many MUNs as possible. Perhaps even start chairing! :)

5. Get a meaningful job/internship that pays. I have several in mind, and haven't particularly decided on one yet. Of course there's always Petrosains, but I do want to explore new things and do something more intellectually challenging.

6. GET MY FREAKING DRIVING LICENSE. Aira, you have not stressed this enough. YOU HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO DRIVE BEFORE YOU GET TO THE UK. PLEASE.

7. Khatam Qur'an lagi sekali. I must!

8. Apply for as many scholarships as possible. It's extremely troublesome, and may not even be worth it in the end, but I have to try. No excuses because I'll have so much time!

9. Watch Schindler's List. I bought the DVD a while ago, the original one mind you, but never got around to watching it. I'll be honest. I'm too afraid. My mum's watched it before and swore she'll never do it again because it scarred her so much, thus I have no one to watch it with. I shall overcome my fear and watch this movie no matter what. I mean, come on, who doesn't watch Schindler's List? Especially one who claims to be a history buff!

That's all I can think of as of now. Considering that I have roughly seven months before I start my degree, all of the above seems possible. Some will be easier than others, of course. Like watching tennis, for example. I think this will be my last post for the year, so if it is, I'll just post my new year greetings now. Happy New Year everyone, and may 2011 bring all the blessings, joy and success you've ever wished for! :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nostalgia

Exams are in a month and the studying could be better. Maths is incredibly frustrating, and I'm afraid I'll have to resort to just going into the exam hall with pure 'tawakal' and nothing else. It's all too much sometimes. I should've just done AS Maths. I wonder if I'll regret continuing with A2 Maths. Only next March I will find out.

I just realized how much I miss debate. Seeing some of the people I know participating in prestigious tournaments like AUDC, WUPID, Australs, ICRC, MDO, National Novice, Royals, IIUM Interschool and PPM, I feel a tinge of regret for not going to UIA and for not being brave enough to join HELP's debate team. If I went to UIA, I will definitely join the debate team. English or BM I'm not sure, since both appeal to me in different ways, but what's sure is that I will be a debater. Interschool 2008 is, and forever will be, the fondest, most cherished memories I keep from my high school years. Nothing, nothing will ever replace that feeling of anxiety before every round, the panic urgency in the 30 minutes of preparation time, and the elation and relief we felt when we were announced winner of each round. Victory is sweet, but the defeats we suffered were memorable too. I still find it amusing that the 2 rounds we lost during the preliminaries were to all-boys teams (STAR and MOZAC), and our quarter-final loss (which eliminated us from the competition) was to another all-boys school, MCKK. We thought it was the end of the world when we lost to STAR and MOZAC. At the time, placing 8th overall and meeting MCKK in the quarter-finals were almost unthinkable. Another funny thing was that our big break came in the octo-finals (we were given the privilege to skip double-octos because we placed 8th overall after 7 rounds) when we beat yet another prominent all-boys debating team, RMC. The euphoria of winning probably got to our heads, or we were just too overwhelmed by the atmosphere, that we didn't perform very well against MCKK the next day. The defeat was painful, but I honestly felt, and still feel, that we had nothing to be ashamed of. Never in the history of the tournament has a day school placed 8th overall, and to lose to eventual finalists MCKK on such a big stage was a small dent to the name we carved for ourselves and our school. I learnt life lessons during that week at IIUM - perseverance, humility, resilience and most importantly, the bond we formed as teammates will last forever. I never knew we could be so united, we covered up for another teammate when she messed up, and we always encouraged each other no matter what. I remembered how I broke down after one of the rounds where I did horribly, but you girls were always there, supportive as ever. Ainaa, Nadrah and Hasanah (wherever you are), I hope that you girls will never forget those few days we spent together in the hallowed halls of IIUM, for they played a role in shaping us into the individuals we are today. I wonder if you girls remember those days in as much detail as I do. Haha.

IIUM was also where I suffered my first ever concussion. I was climbing those horrible double decker beds in my kaftan (smart me) and accidentally stepped on the hem, slipped, fell, and knocked my head into the corner of the wall. I remember that I could not see clearly for a few minutes, everything looked blurry and fuzzy, and that my head felt heavy and swollen. I'm just thankful that it happened after we debated MCKK. Haha. I remember the flurry of panic it caused. Nadrah was panicking, Fatin called our usher, Kak Beah, and she came hurrying on her bicycle. BICYCLE. I was rushed to the campus clinic and the doctor gave me some painkillers. My friends were fussing over how I should take those pills regularly etc, but I was just happy that our tournament was over already by then. It was actually quite cool, experiencing my first concussion. Hahaha!

I won't forget the response from our school too. We were asked to present a mock debate in front of the whole school the following Monday. Yes. THE WHOLE SCHOOL. I felt cool back then, but when I think about it now, its actually quite embarrassing. People were calling me 'Akak Debate' and 'Tuan Speaker' after that, which makes me cringe now. And the best part was we all received Aungerah Kecemerlangan Kokurikulum from the school for our achievements. The school meant well of course, but they got the award all wrong. The brochure stated that we met MCKK in the finals, and the certs said semi-finals. HAHA. We couldn't stop laughing. I would've died if we had to debate on that huge stage at the CAC!

I know that Interschool 2008 was more than 2 years ago, and I might appear as someone whose life is defined by that one achievement. But IIUM meant a lot more than just an achievement. That tournament made me believe in myself, believe in my friends, made me realize that anything was indeed possible. I miss it all so much. The atmosphere, the people. I wish I made more friends back then, talked to more people, shared a lot more. I wish that we were not so caught up with the 'competition' side of things and built more friendships and acquaintances. Now, I would do anything just to get those moments back. How I wish our juniors could experience the same feelings we did, learn as much as we did. I wish the debating culture in our school was more alive, so that Melawati will be a force to be reckoned with in Malaysia's debating community. Sadly, that is not the case. But I still have hope that someday, somehow, we will live those glory days again. Because experiences like that don't come twice.

It's wonderful to be part of something that meaningful. And I experienced it in ONE tournament. How I envy my debate friends from MCKK and RMC who are probably so used to winning, so at ease in tasting victory. But perhaps it was the rarity of our achievement that made it all the more special, all the more precious. Being in that debate team made me feel important and included. It is truly a beautiful feeling, one that I miss dearly. Very dearly.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Twelfth Month

I noticed that this year, I managed to post something up at least once every month. Didn't know I am capable of such discipline! It's December already, and I'm sure I'm not alone in marveling at how incredibly fast the year zoomed by. This time next year, God-willing, I will be in UK doing my Law degree. I know that that depends entirely on my results, and its a long way from now, and a million things might happen in between that changes things, but I still can't help but be amazed at the notion that I will leave the country I have lived in all my life, to pursue my studies in a continent I've never set foot in. That being said, my final exams start on January the 14th, and I can find no words to describe how superbly important they are. If I screw up, it would mean that I have wasted one and a half years of my life, wasted my parents' thousands of ringgit, and shatter not only my own dreams, but also my family's. So no pressure.

Sometimes, the lack of company I keep startles me. Its hard to talk about it without sounding like an anti-social loner freak, but I realized that I keep an astonishingly little number of people close to my heart. And when I actually had someone who was truly close to me, I drove that person away with my own foolish emotions. Now, its been a month. And still that person continues to linger in my mind. It's wrong what they say, that friendship can endure everything. I don't see how our friendship will prevail this time. Even if it does prevail, I don't think it will ever be the same again. How do you find your way back, after all that?

Life amazes me in its cruelty, compassionate and mysterious ways of functioning. Once in a blue moon, you come across someone so interesting, you want nothing more than to get to know that person better. But at the same time, a million and one questions swim around in your mind, a million and one doubts, a million and one impossibilities that cause you to be resigned to the fact that these things aren't meant to happen. But I guess, one should be thankful, and enjoy all the good things and good people life brings. Whether those people stick around forever or not, you cannot control, however much you would love to. Its best to take things as they are, and not to think about everything too much. Occlumency should really exist. It would make life so much easier.

My attempts at posting something less melancholy and more significant always fail miserably. As a Literature student, I know for a fact that masterpieces are more often than not, a product of grief, sadness and tragedy. I don't wish to be overly-dramatic here, but I do find it easier to write about the less pleasant goings-on in my life. My cheerful thoughts are usually expressed through my Facebook statuses. As for writing about something more significant and meaningful (eg. current issues, international affairs, politics), I'm afraid that I'm neither well-read nor widely-read, and you might end up reading something that lacks substance and eloquence. Not that I write with any particular substance or eloquence otherwise, but at least its not facts I'm dealing with. My emotions are terribly hard to describe, but at least people won't be able to disprove them through Wikipedia or Google. Regardless of that, though, I will start writing posts about current issues and such, after my exams probably.

May the last month of the year be superb for all of us :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Warning: This Post Contains SPOILERS!

So I guess my last post was a bit too angry. I assure you this post will be exactly the opposite. Okay?

I've got two things off my back as of now: Literature coursework and LNAT. I handed in my 2 courseworks on Friday, and took my LNAT after that. LNAT was okay, the MCQ was quite tough (that is to be expected), but I'm glad that I managed to write more than 600 words for the essay section. Worse comes to worse, UCL and Nottingham don't like it and I still have 3 other universities.

I WATCHED HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 YESTERDAY.

You could probably tell how freaking excited I was about the movie through my Facebook statuses, and if you go to the same college as I do, you're bound to have heard how much I've been whining about it throughout the week. I prepared by re-reading the book for the umpteenth time, and yes, as any Potter fan out there would tell you, I had sky high expectations. Especially since they decided to split the movie into two parts, I couldn't see a reason why they won't be able to include every single detail from the book.

Clearly, they couldn't. But I'll get to that later. My overall opinion on the movie is that it was a lot more matured. The one thing that I feel deserved most praise was the exceptional acting by Dan, Rupert and Emma. Especially Rupert. He truly outdid himself in his performance, seriously. It was brilliant because he was angry, bitter, jealous, sad, yet his loving, loyal and tender nature speaks out a lot throughout the movie. One of the scenes from the book that I was looking forward to most was the one where Ron left, and the movie did not disappoint. I confess that I've been watching videos of the scene online before I saw the movie, but it did not dampen my reactions to the scene. It was that impactful. A job well done, Rupert Grint :)

The main complaint about the movie is that it's too draggy. I think that 'draggy' is too harsh, though they could have cut short the scenes showing them moving from yet one cold place to another and replaced it with a more meaningful scene - say the one where Hermione interrogates Phinneas Nigellus about the ongoings at Hogwarts - as this actually gives a lot of background on the sword of Gryffindor, something that is essential to the plot. Having said that, I suppose that it was necessary to emphasise to the audience just how lost and helpless they all were, and it was also meant to be a build-up to the tension between Harry and Ron. So yeah, 'draggy' is too harsh a word.

While I was quite disappointed by the absence of several scenes I considered essential, e.g. Harry reading Lily's letter in Sirius's room, the explanation about the fake and original sword of Gryffindor, the background on Kendra and Ariana Dumbledore (though this might be included in Part 2), the filmmakers spruced up the movie with a few parts that really enhanced the storyline. I absolutely LOVED the first few scenes that showed Ron looking into the distance outside The Burrow, Hermione modifying her parents' memories,and Harry visiting The Cupboard Under The Stairs. And of course, the scene that got everyone talking - Harry trying to cheer Hermione up by dancing with her to a Muggle song. I had a feeling that it would be cliche when I read about it, but it was shot so beautifully, and Dan and Emma's acting was so brilliant that it became one of my favourite scenes in the movie. They truly portrayed the heartbreak Harry and Hermione felt over Ron's absence perfectly. Genius!

When I read the book, I thought that the chapter 'Bathilda's Secret' was the creepiest in the series, ever. And the movie captured that creepiness very well. I was totally freaked out by Bathilda, and even more freaked out when she transformed into Nagini, especially since I'm terrified of snakes. The scene at Malfoy Manor was great as well, though I really think that Ron's panic and urgency wasn't portrayed well enough. In the book he offered himself to be tortured instead of Hermione, and he literally went hysterical in the cellar when Bellatrix was torturing her, but it wasn't depicted properly in the movie. Ron was far too calm and considering the various attempts of the director to show how strongly Ron feels for Hermione in the entire movie, I expected Malfoy Manor to be the climax of it all, but it left me wanting. The book was so much better here.

The scene at Xenophilius Lovegood's house was quite good, though the trio's escape wasn't shot properly. Oh yes, Dobby's funeral was shot wonderfully! I nearly cried, it was so touching to see Harry digging the grave using a shovel, and it was obvious how much Harry cared for the cute house-elf. Very well done indeed.

Sorry I had to go into so much detail. You have to realize that I am a HUGE fan of the series, thus I have little tolerance for inaccuracies in the film versions. I can excuse some omissions and errors, but certain scenes, and even words, are just too important to be left out. Considering what a huge chunk was taken out of the last movie, Deathly Hallows Part 1 is a faithful adaptation. But I think that it's brilliance stems from the maturity of the three leads. Their acting was really what made the movie fantastic in my opinion. Especially Rupert Grint. My hats off to you :)

I'm definitely watching the movie again soon. Yup, it's that good.

I love Harry Potter and now I can't freaking wait for Part 2 to come out next July!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another Angsty Post

I want to write something, but yet another post about the despair of unrequited love is boring, and not to mention pathetic. If someone were to ask me if I'm sad, I'll say no. If someone were to ask if I'm angry, I'll say no too. I guess emptiness isn't a feeling, because its impossible to describe.

November is a crazy month. I'm super duper extremely excited that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I is coming out next Wednesday! Then on Friday we're passing up Unit 2 and 4 Literature courseworks, and I'm taking my LNAT on the same day. Then on the 27th I have IELTS, and the week after that, mock exams (this could actually be earlier, depending on how cruel my lecturers are). It's insanity on a whole new level. I shall state once again that I can't freaking wait to be done with A-Levels! THERE IS A PILE OF STORYBOOKS STARING AT ME FROM MY BOOKSHELF, WAITING TO BE READ!!

Sorry. I had to do that.

I watched Life As We Know It with Belle last Friday, and it was surprisingly good. The jokes were funny and the storyline wasn't that typical, though it had a sickly-sweet happy ending and impossibly good-looking people. Whattaheck. It's not a movie if it doesn't have those things, right? It was a good day anyway :)

I've gained so much weight I feel like fasting for three months. It's funny how some people are extremely direct in commenting about my fat self. I get remarks ranging from - "Eh awak ni kena diet lah! Apesal tembam sangat? - to "Eh mane ade gemuk lah..you're just right!" The sad part is, I believe the first remark more than the second. It's unfair isn't it, how some people can eat and eat and eat without even thinking (without exercising, mind you), and not gain any weight at all? And how I (who takes care to not eat junkfood, not to eat between meals), seem to gain that extra layer of fat after every plate of rice I consume. If I could have three wishes, I would definitely wish for the gift to eat as much as I want and not gain weight. I'm not kidding.

By the way, I don't believe in the whole "It's who you are on the INSIDE that matters." Who are you kidding? We're all human beings for God damn's sake. Of course the outside matters. Name me a guy, just ONE guy, who's considerably thin and good-looking, who has a chubby or fat girlfriend. If you do know of one, please please present this being to me because I know of none. I hate cliches. Especially ones that tell you "the outside doesn't matter" and all that crap. It's just not true. People will always judge you on how you look. It's the way the world works.

Yes, you might think I sound bitter and disillusioned. Yes, perhaps I am. It's hard not to be when the person who's everything to you sees everything in a girl significantly thinner and prettier than you. It's painful, but you've gotta take it, right?

It's not like you have a choice.

You never have a choice.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Joy and Turmoil

Yup, I turned nineteen yesterday and it was wonderful :) Got lovely stuff from the parents, and I can't believe the amount of Facebook wishes I got. I know that half of them probably only knew it was my birthday through the site, but for them to click on my profile and wish me is something I truly appreciate :) Nineteen will be good.

Turning nineteen hasn't rid me of this turmoil in my heart, though. Yes, that's what I feel. Turmoil. Its okay most of the time but at times like these, it gets unbearable. I'm so utterly conflicted that I don't even know how to describe how I feel. And it feels as if I'm all alone. Just like last time.

Let this be a lesson to me. Do not let one person be so significant in your life that you just cannot bear the thought of letting him go. Because there might be a time when letting him go is your only choice.

I think, above all, I'm just afraid. I'm just so afraid of so many goddamn things that I'm still stuck here, waiting for God Knows What. I'm so pathetic. I just am. I need to meet new people. I need to realize that there are other people in this world. I need to know that he isn't the only one who can make me smile.

Because I am not the one who makes him smile.

And that renders my feelings pointless.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I Got Slushied.


Its official. Glee is my second favourite show ever, after One Tree Hill. I've seen the first four episodes of Season 2 (same as the US) and they're really great. The third episode - Grilled Cheesus - was particularly good, its message was deep and I give full credit to the producers for their courage in portraying such a controversial subject on primetime television.

This season is a lot more steamier and explicit, though I don't pay much attention to that, I think that people should be matured enough to tell between what's right and what's wrong, and besides its a Western show, what do you expect? Watch it for the good music. The Britney episode was epic, it was better than the Madonna one in my opinion. Heather Morris is one hell of a dancer!

The best part about the season so far is the addition of Sam Evans, a new member of the Glee club who seemed to have something going on with Kurt but now looks like he's into Quinn. If you haven't seen him, GO CHECK HIM OUT. Yes yes, he does have a Beiber look about him, but he's macho-er, his hair is not as smooth, and most importantly, he sounds way better. Before he came along, the only good-looking guy on the show to me was Will Schuester (whose looks is a combination between Orlando Bloom, Patrick Dempsey and Ryan Seacrest). I'm so happy that there's finally someone else worth looking at!

I also think that Sue Sylvester has some of the best lines in the show. She's so witty and never fails to crack me up. The screenwriters did an amazing job with her, and I love it that there's always two sides to her character. The way she treats her sister who has Down's Syndrome is wonderful to see.

Emma Pillsbury is also a favourite of mine. Her ultra-cute puppy dog eyes, OCD and vintage outfits are refreshing, its no surprise that Will is so in love with her. Its quite sad to see him pining over her in this season though. I've always sympathized with characters whose love is not returned, maybe because I understand the feeling so well. The rest of the characters are good too (particularly Artie and Mercedes), with the exception of Rachel. She's really pretty and talented and all, but she annoys me like hell (which is what the producers probably set out to do), so again, they should be congratulated for doing such a good job.

Its nice to have a new show to follow after One Tree Hill got boring since Luke and Peyton left. To those who haven't seen Season 2 yet, beg borrow or steal, because you really must watch it!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Closer

Everything seems to be so near. The coursework pass-up day, the LNAT, the IELTS, the mocks, the final exams. Is this calmness normal? It can't be, because I'm far from calm, yet I don't think I'm as panicky as I should be. People mistake my outward 'calmness' to confidence, yet I'm far from being confident. I'm just uncertain. I don't even dare think of my degree. I just want to get A-Levels done with safely and smoothly. I don't seem panicky because I think that panicking is time consuming. Its almost like, the amount and magnitude of the task that lies ahead leaves little room for pondering, dreaming and stressing.

What I feel is a lack of feeling - its like I'm just plodding along, devoid of feeling, just concentrating on the next task that comes. Its the only thing that can produce results, anyway. And right now, that's all I want, results. I don't give a damn about all of this being a 'journey' and how in the end, this 'journey' is more important than the destination. That's a load of crap. One cannot afford such indulgences. When this destination is reached, safely and with desired results, only then can the journey begin. Honestly, what I'm going through right now is no journey. It's just a necessity, without which there will be no journey.

Yes, I feel dry. You can argue it in a literal or metaphorical way, but that's how I feel. Drained. And the mock exams haven't even started yet. It's not a good state to be in, but at least I'm still moving. And I will continue moving, until all of this is over.

I owe it to my parents, no one else. Yes, one always hears that 'you should do this for yourself' etc etc. But I don't believe in that, to a certain extent. Don't be selfish. Your success means more to your parents then it does to yourself. Its the least you could give them, after all they've done.

Most of all, more than anything, I can't wait to be done with Maths. No offence, for I respect the subject a lot, but its just not for me. I just hope it won't be my downfall. That's all I'm asking.

I also need to forget about someone. Or rather, get this confusion I feel cleared up. Because it cannot go on like this, it just can't.

Its been way too long.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Indulgence

Despite being deep in my last semester of A-Levels, I somehow found the time to skip a whole week of classes to go to Seoul, Korea with my mum. I understand the high possibility of regretting my decision, and we shall all see just how much that regret will be when I set foot in college next Monday. In the meantime, I shall tell you what I think of Seoul.

It was my first time in Korea, but since my dad has been there a couple of times on business, I did have some expectations. Besides the obvious - spotless toilets no matter where it is situated, efficient public transport, clean streets - what I found there was a society that is self-sufficient, independent and polite. Above all, despite their lack of fluency in English, these Koreans display a desire and eagerness to learn the language that they have proven they can excel without. My mum and I received a few admiring glances from Koreans when they heard us speak English, and there were even one or two who enthusiastically spoke broken English to us without any qualms at all!

What intrigued me the most was the amount of goods that they produce themselves. The obvious ones would be Samsung, LG, Kia and Hyundai, but I found several bakeries, handbags and fashion houses that were truly Made In Korea. And to think that all of it was created by people that hardly speaks English, whose education system is entirely Korean, and whose society is almost completely homogeneous! One can only attribute their success to their hardworking nature, indomitable spirit and independence. It's truly admirable.

The success of their brands Samsung, LG, Hyundai and Kia cannot be disputed. Not only are these brands used by people around the world (including Westerners), they are also successful enough to sponsor huge football clubs like Chelsea (Samsung) and world-class sporting events like the Australian Open (Kia). What amazes me even more is, despite proving that they are able to achieve all this without being able to speak much English and without the advantages of having a multi-racial society, they actually WANT to learn to speak more English. I happen to know plenty of Koreans who studied in International Schools here in Malaysia just to improve their English. And now they speak some of the finest English I know. See what I mean when I say that it's all in the education system?

And here we are in Malaysia, harping about 'Malay rights' and 'memartabatkan bahasa ibunda', reverting Maths and Science back to Malay when we have produced neither goods nor graduates that are of any use overseas. I know of some ministers who justify the usage of 'bahasa ibunda' in our education system by saying that the Japanese and Koreans have done it and it has proven to be successful. Yes, it is true that they have succeeded with that system, but tell me, does our people have half the determination, independence and hardworking spirit that the Japanese and Koreans have? Is our country governed as well as theirs are? Are our universities as world-class as the University of Tokyo? I feel like telling these people who compare our standards to theirs to open their eyes, wake up and smell the coffee. We can't afford NOT to speak English. We can't afford to live underneath a shell. We cannot afford to be pampered and spoon-fed by Government policies. The sooner we face these facts, the closer we will be towards achieving that much-desired 'Developed Nation' status.

My Korean experience was filled with many interesting places, amazing shopping, good-looking people and awesome weather. But it was the spirit of their people that really amazed me. I most definitely will regret missing all those classes soon, but right now, I feel like it was all worth it :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Here

Loneliness clarifies.

The two words above struck me the most whilst studying this poet called Philip Larkin. I found it to be so very accurate. I do know of some people who cannot stand being alone..literally. They must have at least a few (preferably a whole crowd) of people around them all the time. They cannot bear doing the most mundane tasks such as having lunch or even walking alone. I find that weird because I enjoy my own company a lot. I feel like I can be myself when I'm alone, and I don't have to say or act in a way that would please others, and this statement by Larkin, that loneliness is actually clarifying, really moved me. Its as if he's saying that the absence of company also means the lowering of expectations, the lightening of burdens, that the path is clear for one to find one's self without any pressures or influences. And finding yourself brings you a step closer towards finding the meaning of life itself, a theme that is recurring in a lot of Larkin's poems.

Here is unfenced existence:
Facing the sun, untalkative, out of reach.

This clarifying loneliness then allows one to find that place where we can have an unrestricted, free existence. Unfenced existence. Do you see the beauty in that phrase? It is what a lot of us only dream of, but can never attain. Out of reach. Because the reality is, we all live within constraints. We are never completely free from the rigidity, the restrictions, the ropes that hold us back, due to the fact that we live within a society and whatever we do affects others in some way or the other.

That's why, loneliness clarifies.

Mr. Larkin, you're not too bad after all.

p/s: In case you're wondering why this post is so..profound, I'm actually practicing for my Unit 4 Literature coursework :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bukan Nak Buat Lawak, Betul!

Mungkin orang yang baca blog ni tertanya-tanya kenapa Aira tak pernah (atau jarang-jarang) berblog dalam Bahasa Melayu. Mungkin juga ada orang yang ingat Aira ni tak reti berbahasa Melayu dah, ataupun dah tak nak berbahasa Melayu. Sebenarnya, bukan tak suka/tak nak..cuma dah lama sangat tak tulis karangan Melayu ni, sejak lepas SPM tak tulis-tulis, jadinya tak berapa nak pandai dah. Boleh tu boleh, cuma nanti campur-campur dengan English nanti jadi rojak, tak sedap baca. Tujuan berblog bagi Aira sebenarnya ialah untuk latih diri mengarang dengan baik. Jadi kalau anda semua tergelak-gelak baca 'blog post' kali ni, gelak lah ye. Sebab memang kelakar pun, tapi nak jugak la sekali-sekala berblog dalam Bahasa Melayu ni. Takut nanti dah tak reti langsung pulak mengarang dalam BM, susah nanti.

Jangan salah faham, Aira sebenarnya bukannnya tak fasih berbahasa Melayu. Dekat rumah, memang kebanyakan masa cakap Melayu pun. Cuma campur-campur lah. Tu yang tak seronok tu. Haha.

Jadi, apakah motif post kali ni selain daripada ingin membuktikan bahawa bahasa Melayu Aira belum lagi berkarat? Hmmm. Tak pasti lah. Kalau nak cerita pasal kolej, rasanya macam tak ada sangat benda yang berlainan untuk diceritakan. Semuanya benda yang bosan dan sama - kerja banyak, stress, takut dan macam-macam lagi. Macam tak ada modal lain dah.

Mungkin Aira boleh ceritakan pasal sambutan Raya tahun ni. Seperti biasa, hari pertama di Klang, rumah nenek dan atuk. Makan memang tak payah cerita lah, rasanya baru raya pertama tapi berat dah naik balik. Sia-sia puasa sebulan. Haish.

Raya kali ni Aira jemput kawan-kawan baik dari Melawati datang rumah makan-makan sikit. Belle, Farah, Nadrah, Rifdi, Dan dan Ruslan. Aira gembira sangat jumpa diorang ni sebab bukan sahaja dah lama tak berkumpul ramai-ramai disebabkan kesibukan masing-masing di kolej/universiti, tapi Aira seronok tengok diorang ni masih kekal dengan karakter dan personaliti masing-masing yang tetap sama..tetap orang yang Aira kenal sejak sekolah dulu. Rasa bersyukur dapat kawan-kawan yang bukan sahaja baik, tetapi unik karakternya setiap sorang.

Belle yang selalu memahami dan kuat makan, Farah yang sentiasa sensible (maaflah, betul-betul tak tau sensible tu macam mana nak ekspres dalam Bahasa Melayu), Nadrah yang sentiasa buat Aira ketawa dengan gelagatnya yang mencuit hati (ya Allah!), Rifdi yang susah nak dibaca perasaannya tetapi sangat-sangat baik, Dan yang kreatif, ceria dan kelakar..dan Ruslan yang pandai mengambil hati. Semuanya Aira sayang, dan Aira seronok dapat kawan macam korang yang unik dan serba melengkapi antara satu sama lain. Terima kasih banyak-banyak sebab sudi datang rumah Aira beraya :)

Coursework Sastera Bahasa Inggeris masih juga belum selesai dan Aira disini tengah berblog. Tak tau apa nak jadi. Aira harap anda semua terhibur dengan post kali ini. Bukan tujuan untuk buat lawak, cuma nak membuktikan pada diri Aira sendiri yang Aira masih mampu mengarang dalam BM. Tapi kalau anda nak ketawa, ketawa lah. Sebab Aira pun nak tergelak dah ni.

Jaga diri anda semua!

Irreplaceable

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Vamos Rafa!

This is my current desktop wallpaper:

At the age of 24, this man has achieved:
- 18 Masters 1000 titles (the most of all-time)
- Three Davis Cups
- The Olympic Gold Medal
- 9 Grand Slams (5 French Opens, 2 Wimbledons, 1 Australian Open, 1 US Open)

and the ultimate...

- The Career Grand Slam (winning all 4 Grand Slams at least once in his career)

All the while maintaining an endearing, humble personality. He is already proven to be the best clay-court player in history, yet his achievements show time and again that he is indeed A Man of All Surfaces. He firmly shrugs away any comparisons between him and Federer, whom he looks up to as a role model and whose achievements he believes he will never surpass. Yet at his age, who is to say he won't? He has achieved more than Federer has when he was his age (Federer only got his Career Slam at the age of 28 after winning Roland Garros last year). I can list down countless other records this young man has broken, yet it is his off-court attitude that truly makes him a champion. Read any article about him and it's bound to mention how polite and well-mannered he is towards practically everyone - journalists, photographers, fans. His coach, uncle and mentor Toni Nadal has done a good job with him. In an age where its a norm for athletes to cheat on their wives, abuse drugs and god-knows-what-else, Rafa maintains a good relationship with his family (he still lives with them in their house in Mallorca, Spain).

Kids should start idolizing youths like these instead of those celebrities frolicking around E! Entertainment. Seriously. He is already my role-model, along with men like Barack Obama, people who have achieved so much at such a young age.

You will continue writing your own chapter in tennis history, Rafael Nadal. I'm sure of it. Can't wait for the Australian Open next year! :D

VAMOS RAFA!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Nothing To Be Said

My apologies for the lack of any posts for the past few weeks. I can't really find an excuse for my silence, to say that I don't have anything to talk about would be a lie, for those who know me (and are on my Facebook) would know that I ALWAYS have something to say about almost everything. No, my lack of posts isn't due to the lack of things to comment upon, but rather due to the fact that there are too many things going on out there that I find it easier to just rant about them on my Facebook status.

The second half of my last semester at HELP has begun since the last time I blogged. We've received our June exam results and classes have resumed as usual. Its mid September now, which means that most of us have started panicking. UCAS applications have started, and that alone has taken up so much time. Making my uni choices, writing my personal statement, all those deadlines to keep in mind. The effects of the June exam results have barely settled and registration for the January exams are already open. So now I'm supposed to think about which papers to retake, whether or not I can cope with so many papers, 2 courseworks, the exam timetable..etc etc. I swear I can't imagine the kind of euphoria I'll feel when I'll finally be done with A-Levels next year.

In between it all, I've managed to attend TAYMUN 2010, my sixth MUN conference, watch the US Open, and keep up with the 'International Burn A Quran Day' fiasco. TAYMUN and Quran Burning are already quite stale to be discussed right now, and besides you can go see my Facebook statuses and links to read my viewpoints on the matter. The US Open however, is still going on, and thanks to the unpredictable weather in New York, the world doesn't have a Men's Singles Champion yet. The Nadal-Djokovic final is somewhat a letdown for me, since I was so hoping for a Nadal-Federer match, but all credits to Djokovic for beating the greatest player of all time on a court where he has won for 6 years in a row, and where the same player has beaten him for the past 3 years. That being said, I'm a die-hard Rafa supporter, and I would love to see him become the youngest man in the Open Era to win a Career Grand Slam. If he does, he will guarantee a place in tennis history, and considering his young age, is on course to win plenty more Slams. Vamos Rafa! :D

Before I forget, Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir dan Batin to all. Hope everyone had a blessed, peaceful Raya :)

I have to get back to Philip Larkin now. Take care, everyone.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Invictus

One of the most inspiring poems ever written, and one of my all-time favourites:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Invictus, William Ernest Henley - 1875

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Words of Wisdom

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Desiderata - Max Ehrmann


This is so beautiful. Each and every line is meaningful. Thank you, Max Ehrmann.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Unproductivity

My semester break has reached it's second week and I still haven't done anything worth mentioning yet. My Lit Unit 2 coursework question is still staring at me from my netbook screen, and the truckloads of Statistics and C4 homework is still untouched. Its official. I SUCK.

To make matters worse, our A-Level second semester exam results will be out this Wednesday. I can't describe how I feel about it, I'm incredibly nervous and excited at the same time! It's SO BLOODY SCARY.

Meanwhile, I'm starting to realize that I care about someone way more than I should. Actually, I've realized that quite some time ago. What do I do about it? I honestly have no idea. But I guess the best thing to do is to just leave things the way they are. I've been down this road before, and I wasn't greeted with a happy ending when I reached the destination. I just hope that letting things remain the way they are would not hurt me more than if I actually did something about how I feel. Because if that's the case, then I am definitely screwed.

Ramadhan is now well underway and I hope fasting's been good to all of you out there. Lets make the best out of this holy month by counting our blessings and keeping in mind those who are not so fortunate, like the people in Gaza and also the flood victims in Pakistan. May Allah grant all of you faith, dignity and strength to get through it all.

As for us lucky ones over here, lets go through this Ramadhan with moderation and humility. May God bless us all, take care :)

Now, if only I could write this much for my coursework..